April 12, 2010

Transit advocates are mobilizing
against County Board's non-binding referendum

An interesting sidelight to the one-man, one-vote bedrock of Democracy is surfacing this week. The County Board is on the cusp of calling for a countywide vote on regional transit ... while proponents of  transit itself are mobilizing against it.

What it all boils down to is this: The County Board, and County Executive Bill McReynolds -- who are 100% in favor of commuter rail as long as it's paid for by a tax on cars rented in Milwaukee and not by a countywide sales tax (No, no, no, the ghost of George Petak, no!!) -- want to put the matter to a referendum. A referendum many are  sure would lose, as it calls for approval of a new tax.

The County Board doesn't want a binding referendum, mind you; just an advisory one. The board still would be able to do whatever it pleases... (So, you ask, why bother with the vote at all? That's the question opponents are asking.)

The resolution, up for second reading and possible final approval at the County Board's meeting Tuesday night would authorize:
"The Placement On The November 2010 Ballot Of An Advisory Referendum Question With Regard To A Possible Additional Tax For Mass Transit Purposes."

Or so the board's agenda reads. Actually, the resolution says much more than that -- we have it all below -- but the ultimate result would be a ballot question asking Racine County voters:
"Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?"

Regional transit and KRM commuter rail supporters are up in arms. They plan to march on the County Board (The image of villagers brandishing fiery torches inexplicably comes to mind.) to speak out at the board meeting Tuesday.

Mind you, a lot of important Racine and Milwaukee area residents are all in favor of commuter rail. A few weeks ago, Roger Caron, president of RAMAC, was running a radio commercial urging listeners to call Sen. John Lehman and Rep. Cory Mason for their support. (They're both Democrats; Republican Rep. Robin Vos presumably is a lost cause on this issue.) And 32 top business leaders -- from Aurora Health Care, Wheaton Franciscan, Froedtert, Marshall & Ilsley, Johnson Financial, Kranz, SC Johnson, Johnson Controls, Wispark... you get the picture -- wrote to the Legislature earlier this year, "on behalf of the  100,000 employees we represent," urging support of a "multi-modal regional transit authority including Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee Counties" with "a dedicated funding mechanism."

And many are not. McReynolds himself, in his "State of the County" address last May, said, "Two years ago, this County Board expressed support for commuter rail." (Alas, for regional transit supporters, he didn't stop there.)  "...provided it would be funded by a car rental fee. Earlier this year, while the County Board expressed support for regional transit, it called for an elected governing body, (...or there...) vigorously opposed a sales tax, and insisted that individual communities be able to decide whether to be taxed for transit.

TransitNOW is planning to storm the battlements -- well, they hope to show up en masse at the Couty Board meeting at Ives Grove at 6:30 p.m. this Tuesday -- opposing any such referendum. So is Community for Change.

Kerry Thomas, executive director of TransitNow, calls the proposed referendum question : "clearly biased, inaccurately worded, and misleading." She notes that the proposed RTA legislation mandates a binding referendum for every municipality that wants to implement a sales tax for transit. "This was a request by the County Board, County Executive McReynolds, and Rep. Robin Vos," she says. "Should the board vote for the referendum Tuesday, their vote will take place "before the RTA legislation even has a chance to pass."

Thomas is urging members to speak during the public comment period at the beginning the board meeting, to urge the board "to let municipalities decide for themselves if and when they want to invest in transit, as the RTA legislation calls for. If there must be a referendum, urge them to re-write the referendum question to accurately describe the situation so that the results will be useful.... Let’s make sure that any referendum that is placed is useful and is based on an accurate description of the issue so that it reflects the true wishes of the people, and is not misleading or a waste of time and money."

Kelly Gallaher of Community for Change says much the same. "A non-binding referendum is a waste of the people's time... Non-binding resolutions are almost always an indication of governmental weakness and a failure in leadership. To 'poll' constituents about issues without the benefit of binding action using a flawed and hypothetical question is just stupid. I support the use of ballot resolutions that are binding and reflect real legislation; anything short of that is political theater."

Others see the potential referendum as something else entirely, as a "wedge issue," a hot-button on the ballot to energize, say, the TEA Party movement -- which has been vocal in its opposition to KRM.  (They brought in Randall O'Toole from the CATO Institute a few weeks ago;  he questioned most of transit supporters' economic forecasts.) Once at the polls, this theory goes, these people will vote "right," thus influencing the outcome of other election issues and candidates.

The complete County Board resolution states:
To the Honorable Members of the Racine County Board of Supervisors:

      WHEREAS, mass transit in Southeastern Wisconsin has been the subject of various legislative proposals since 2005, some already enacted and others still pending; and

      WHEREAS, some of these proposals would permit imposition, within Racine County, of new taxes, such as a sales tax or a local vehicle registration fee, to provide the local share of funds for mass transit, which could include both bus and KRM (Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee) commuter rail transit; and

      WHEREAS, in Resolution 2006-160, the Racine County Board of Supervisors expressed its support for a vehicle rental fee as the sole funding mechanism for commuter rail; and

      WHEREAS, in Resolution 2008-134S, the Racine County Board of Supervisors expressed its opposition to a sales tax as a funding mechanism for commuter rail; and

      WHEREAS, given the conflicting provisions of legislative proposals for funding mass transit in Southeastern Wisconsin, and the expectation that more proposals will be introduced, members of the public have expressed a desire that their views on this matter be heard; and

      WHEREAS, the Racine County Board of Supervisors desires to hear the views of the public on this important matter; and

      WHEREAS, subsection 59.52 (25) of the Wisconsin Statutes permits the County Board of Supervisors to conduct a countywide referendum for advisory purposes; and

      WHEREAS, the following advisory referendum question provides a way for the public to express its views on how the local share of mass transit in Racine County should be funded:

    Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?

      NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Racine County Board of Supervisors will place on the November 2010 ballot the following as an advisory referendum question:

    Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?

      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Governor, to Racine County’s state legislative delegation, and to the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA).


  1. "Mind you, a lot of important Racine and Milwaukee area residents are all in favor of commuter rail."

    Oh if the Rich and White want it we must have it!

  2. You have to wonder, if this referendum is non-binding, why are the proponents running scared? Nevermind, rhetorical question.

    anon 6:52 - Community for Change is an offshoot of the Obama campaign. It's not a matter of the rich and white, it's a matter of those who want something for nothing - including those high powered businesses that can't seem to open up their own wallets to invest in this boondoggle.

  3. "Community for Change is an offshoot of the Obama campaign."

    Like I said Rich and White well after Obama is done not so rich.

    I say lets jack it up and make it a binding one. The Transit Now folks hater that more because they know they can not win. Even using the lies about jobs and investment its to easy to show the lies for what they are.

    When Walker wins in November this all goes away.

  4. "Republican Rep. Robin Vos presumably is a lost cause on this issue."

    This is the writers of The Post’s opinion of Voss's views, not anyone quoted in this piece, and therefore this story is hereby marked "editorial" solely to comply with traditional standards of journalism.

  5. ...Republican Rep. Robin Vos presumably is a lost cause on this issue."

    I would consider his a "winning cause".

  6. I think the Board is doing the right thing. For years KRM has been driven by special interest groups and questionable research/findings. I have yet to talk to one friend who supports this train concept. Like so many bad bills in Madison and Washington, if this was really a good idea there would be broad support for it.

    The public will be forced to pay for a lot of bad legislation in the coming years to cover Washington's run away spending. We don't need KRM forced on us without the option to share our view.

    Special interest groups always fear the referendum because the people/voters will be heard. Special interest groups just want their views to be heard.

  7. The legislation requires a public referendum AND a vote by the county board to pass. This "advisory" ballot question is to turn out teabaggers for Vos.

    Another binding referendum would have to be done again next April and then the board would vote.

  8. For Vos and Wanggaard. He's on the Executive Committee that put this idea together. Wonder why?

  9. Nobody is against a referendum. They're against a poorly written, bias referendum that is non-binding and thus has no teeth and serves no purpose.

    If we're going to do this, then do it the right way:

    A binding referendum based on the actual legislation with fair wording that accurately represents the decision at hand.

  10. anon 9:02 - the referendum wording is perfect! It's not whether or not citizens object to a train, it's whether or not they object to a tax to fund it - hence the wording of the resolution. Most people don't care if you develop 10 KRMs - as long as taxpayers are NOT funding it!

    I have no desire to vote on the "concept" of KRM - I want to vote on the teeth - which is the tax!

  11. You aren't voting on it at all-that's the point!

  12. If you don't think there is opposition to doing a referendum note Mt Pleasant. Their own board action required a referendum before they built a new village hall. There will be $25 million spent to move out of the current location. The board/staff carefully split the spending into smaller pieces to get around their own rules that required a referendum for spending over $10 million.

    To the people using the inappropriate term for the TEA party, what are you afraid of? When you lower yourself to name calling to get your point across you lose credibility. The concept of getting the input of the voters shouldn't be a negative in a democracy. Those who resort to name calling to discourage those who seek the peoples voice just play into to growing view that the US is slipping toward socialism. Every left slam of the TEA party just grows the TEA pary membership.

  13. Should of thought of that before you hung teabags from your hats.

  14. "I have no desire to vote on the "concept" of KRM - I want to vote on the teeth - which is the tax!"

    Great, then you must include the entire picture. Although that is hard to do since there isn't even legislation yet.

    Any KRM referendum must include the verbiage for property tax reduction if it is included in the final bill. That completes the tax picture that you are concerned with. If indeed that is part of the final bill, then we should be voting on the entirety of the solution and not just one part of it.

  15. This isn't just KRM. The bus system is also transit and impacted by this.

  16. You guys don't get it- This is Wanggaard's gay marriage act. He and his buddies cooked up a fake and wrong question to put on the ballot to get out the vote- for him!

    So everyone turns out all sweaty to mark their ballot, either way- and it means nothing. The RTA still passes and who's the winner? Wanggaard! Thank you very much suckers!

    His dumb question asks about a wheel tax- there isn't even a wheel tax in the bill!

  17. That's another fine example of completely objective journalism...

  18. Such a backwards community we have here. Glad i'm returning to an area that values mass transit and all of the benifits and growth that it brings.

  19. anon 9:32 - I live in Caledonia - there would be NO property tax relief - so how could that verbiage possibly be applicable to the entire county?

    Furthermore, there is NO GUARANTEE whatsoever that property tax relief will be realized!

  20. There was a wheel tax in a previous bill. Just ask Cory Mason.

  21. Dude, you are paying for it now with your property taxes. That means that renters don't pay a dime, out-of-towners don't pay a dime, only property owners.

    The wheel tax is OUT. That's how dumb this is, it's not even in the bill anymore.

    But follow the thread- the referendum is meaningless. It's designed to turn-out the pitchfork crowd for Wanggaard. It means nothing- you'd still have to vote again and only if it passes in Madison- which it hasn't!

  22. "anon 9:32 - I live in Caledonia - there would be NO property tax relief - so how could that verbiage possibly be applicable to the entire county?

    Furthermore, there is NO GUARANTEE whatsoever that property tax relief will be realized!"

    This is a great example of why this referendum is deeply flawed. Solutions may be different on a municipality by municipality basis. How could you possibly put this referendum out on a county-wide basis when the impacts might be dramatically different for each region?

    And your comment about property tax is a valid concern, but quite frankly it is pure speculation. The bill isn't even passed. Would you feel differently if the reduction was a line item on the property tax bill that showed specifically how much your taxes went down? Well, that might be in the final bill.

    Anything besides the facts are speculation that should not be included in referendum language. That is not an unreasonable request.

  23. The Translator4/12/2010 10:04 AM

    It amazes me that people who claim they work "For the People" (Yes you Kelly) do everything they can to take the ability to govern AWAY from the people. I know that C4C (Yes, Kelly again) has the Washington mentality that Government is the solution to every problem, when in fact, this type of government is the problem. Please call your county board supervisor and ask them to vote in favor of giving you a voice. Vote for the referendum. Why are they afraid of hearing from the people. Because they know that this will go down in flames. I just wish this was binding. Funny how Ms Gallagher is pushing hard to quiet citizens when her "organization" sure needed people to speak up in the last election. Funny how the input of the people seems to change. when you don't need the people anymore.

  24. Translator

    This referendum is not binding. The people are not getting "a voice". A true voice would be a binding referendum based on the final bill, should one even pass.

    Take into account that if the bill passes, it requires a referendum to authorize the funding source (such as sales tax increase). What does that mean? That means you will have to do this referendum yet again if the bill passes - one that it is binding.

    This is all stupid at this point and has no impact on anything except giving Republicans a ballot issue to drive voter turnout. Apart from that, please tell me what value this referendum has as it is.

  25. Careful Bloggers! Don't say anything negative about anything Kelly proposes or supports. She'll interpret that as threatening and have a major crying jag.

    And yes there is no doubt CforC is a direct spinoff from the Obama campaign. Just ask Dustin, he's a member.

  26. Pete

    I think a public records request might prove very informational in determining just how this referendum came to pass.

    This is a campaign stunt in disguise for Van Waangard. Given his stupidity in doing this in a very public way, I'm sure he made mistakes in leaving a paper trail as well.

  27. As a member of LiberTEA Racine and the TEA Party group I find myself in the awkward position of agreeing with Kelly Gallagher..I agree this vote should be BINDING! I will attend the meeting tomorrow night. I will support the referendum on the ballot either way but will definatly speak in favor of a "Binding" referendum. I don't speak for any other persons in our groups, but for myself. But I would urge everyone with an opinion to let our Supervisors know that WE the people of Racine want a vote on an issue that is this important. We shouldn't let Mayor Dickerts APPOINTED representative decide for us. (After all Mayor Dickert only represents the City of Racine, but this new tax will effect everyone in Racine County). See you tomorrow Night in Downtown Ive's Grove. :)

  28. If I understand correctly, the transit bill in the legislature has a requirement for another referendum assuming it passes. To ask a silly non-binding question with no teeth is a waste of the money some want to save.

    To me, the transit bill, supported by those who create jobs here, is about jobs and getting people to jobs. For Robin and others to deny us that opportunity demonstrates a lack of long range vision for political gain. Why would Republicans in the Assembly and Senate not listening to those who create the jobs (generally big supporters of Republican candidates and their agenda?)

  29. Downtown Brown

    I agree with you but would add one thing. The final language on this binding referendum should be finalized after the legislative session in Madison has ended in a couple of weeks. By then, we should know the final details and what exactly we are voting on. That will help determine the final language of the referendum so that it can accurately portray the legislation.

  30. Pete

    Can you get a comment from the board on what their objective is with this referendum? I'm sure they have some purpose in mind otherwise they wouldn't be doing it.

  31. If it is discovered that Van Wanngard is using this as a campaign stunt then he should be forced to resign his position.

    This whole thing is starting to stink and the smell is coming from Van Wanngard and McReynolds.

  32. This is very simple. If the major companies listed want KRM - then let them pay for it. If they think this is going to bring good talent to Racine, then these wiz kids should be able to increase the companies profits which will allow for them to pay for it.In my opinion, the only ones that "may" benefit are Milwaukee and Chicago. If anyone rides these trains from Racine it will be Racine county residents going to the big cities for a day of fun, food and shopping.

  33. The Translator4/12/2010 11:43 AM

    It also blows my mind just how many educated people (business leaders, community organizers, etc)who should know better are pushing one of the most un-American principals there is, in fact one that a little battle called the American Revolution was fought over - Taxation without Representation. We don't need another political payoff appointee board. No matter who is in power, the power to tax must also come with the weight of accountability.

  34. "To me, the transit bill, supported by those who create jobs here, is about jobs and getting people to jobs."

    There are no jobs coming from KRM! Only taxes and more taxes.
    Perhaps if the companies that want this so much if it such a winner should pay for it

  35. The Translator4/12/2010 11:46 AM

    anon 11:33. By your own criteria, then Obama, Pelosi, Reid and every person running for congress this year would have to resign for using an issue as a campaign "stunt". In fact, thats a hell of an idea. Unless you only mean if they have a (r) after their name. Then you are a statist, or a C4C member.

  36. This question isn't about KRM it's about BUSES.

    That's why KRM supporters are mad, KRM already has a funding source.

    Vos and Wanggaard don't want you to know that because it bodes better for them. The question is wrong and misleading on purpose.

    This is totally political and dumb. Give the county a real referendum that counts. Make it correct and make it binding!

  37. Welcome to Robin's and Van's 2010 election scam. This has nothing to do with KRM and everything to do with electing Van.

  38. Make it Binding4/12/2010 12:10 PM

    Looks like C4C now has a computer bank for blog postings. Pack a smokes and a sixer if you can type. C4C=ACORN 2.0

  39. Vos, Van and McReynolds are the conservative version of Acorn.

    I guess if they can't win on ideas they have to try to give themselves an advantage with election fraud.

    Meanwhile, those of us that are serious about this issue on both sides are waiting for a real solution....binding referendum based on the facts.

  40. The sales tax in the bill that hasn't even been voted on yet is for an RTA: that's buses which are paid for with property taxes.

    That "rail services" is included in the question is because they are dumb and don't know how to read a bill.

    In order to get an RTA everyone would have to vote on it next spring and then the boards will have to vote on it too.

    If you're going to ask a meaningless question at least ask the right damn question!

  41. Make this a binding referendum, that way this boondoogle will be done. What is wrong with saving $ 240 million and taking the 79 mph Amtrak train instead?

  42. If they make it binding all the business owners (who are usually Republicans) will be ticked off if it fails. See the logic?

    The people get no real say either way. Winner=Wanggaard.

  43. Who would be the obvious winner in this? Van Wannggaard. And with it being non-binding and meaningless he has nothing to lose. Bottom line - this isn't about commuter rail or the buses - this is about an election.

    From the article:

    "Others see the potential referendum as something else entirely, as a "wedge issue," a hot-button on the ballot to energize, say, the TEA Party movement -- which has been vocal in its opposition to KRM. (They brought in Randall O'Toole from the CATO Institute a few weeks ago; he questioned most of transit supporters' economic forecasts.) Once at the polls, this theory goes, these people will vote "right," thus influencing the outcome of other election issues and candidates."

  44. Anon 9:59. Renters pay property tax as part of their rent... They just do not have to write the check.

  45. Once again the CTA, the (Chicago transit Authority) in the third? most populist city in the US is broke. How can the three little cities of Kenosha,Rabine and Milwaukee combined support this monster? It is simple math.
    Make it a binding referendum period.

  46. Should read Racine! Typo

  47. Liberals and Conservatives are united. Scrap this referendum and give us a binding one that has teeth.

  48. To: Robin Vos and Van Wangaard and others on the county board, please comment on this.

    Why are you asking for a non-binding referendum rather than a binding referendum? Don't let others speak for you ~ demonstrate the transparency you want from Obama. Lead by example, stand up, have a backbone, and give us your answer straight. Tomorrow's meeting allows for 30 minutes of comments. Please tell us directly why you've chosen this path. No politics, no spin, no Dem bashing, just give us your reasons.

  49. Quick someone call Dickert and see what he thinks or maybe his new PIO Wayne Clingman.

  50. I'm glad to see the Racine County Board finally taking on all of the major business leaders in Racine. That is long overdue.

  51. I am amazed that people who oppose KRM are painted as backwards and not forward thinking. Historically, trains don't have the impact in these areas that they do in the east coast cooridor.

    There were trains here years ago that died from not being used. Ironically, the KRM idea came from corporate folks in the area but seems to be now be championed by liberals who are usually against anything corporate.

    This is being supported for all the wrong reasons. But if you are against this you are painted as backwards fools so I guess I'm just a fool. But for those who are blindly drinking the KRM koolaid do your homework.

  52. Why is the referendum non-binding?

    Because you could never get liberals to go along with a binding referendum.

    This will give a guage of how the public feels about a transit expansion that will require a massive infusion of tax monies.

    You could not get the referendum on the ballot if it was binding.

  53. Liberals support a binding referendum. I don't know where Real Debate gets his information from. Plus, a binding referendum is part of the proposed legislation anyway. The only people seemingly unwilling to do this is the Racine County Board.

  54. Republicans control the Racine County Board. They don't need "liberal" support. They could do this if they wanted to. Question is why didn't they?

  55. Real Debate

    I don't know who you are fooling. If liberals wouldn't support a binding referendum, then by the same logic they sure as hell wouldn't support an advisory one either.

    Face the facts. It is the Republicans on the Racine County Board that are preventing this from being binding. If they have the power to get it on the ballot in the first place, then they have the power to make it binding as well.

    Don't blame this on liberals - blame your own inept party.

  56. The demise of the North Shore line corresponded to the rise of the interstate highway system and the fact that more people could afford cars. The trend now is not to build (or rebuild) highways but to use mass transit; that is why there is big competition to these funds. And these funds will be spent here or elsewhere; saying NO to trains and buses does not prevent spending ~ that money will be spent! You are not saving any money saying no.

    Now, if the business leaders and many local governments agree they like commuter rail, and we all agree construction and development will create jobs, having an ill worded unnecessary referendum (duplicated in the bill).

    Can opponents really say no to creating jobs and connecting people to them? Seems to me that Republicans should listen to those who support them and say Yes to this project that will keep the jobs here and create new ones.

    Again, the federal monies will be spent ~ saying NO does not prevent that. Why doesn't the GOP get that? I am not happy with the deficit either, but blocking this will not score political points. Creating jobs will.

  57. "Can opponents really say no to creating jobs and connecting people to them? Seems to me that Republicans should listen to those who support them and say Yes to this project that will keep the jobs here and create new ones."

    This will bring NO jobs here, saying so does not make it true.
    My car will get me to jobs far faster then KRM.

  58. As far as Liberals and Conservatives supporting a Binding Vote...I welcome their input. I hope we can agree that WE THE PEOPLE get to vote on whether or not we get to have out Taxes raised. Let's face it folks it's not like people are standing at the Train station waiting to be picked up. We don't need to rush. and waiting until the State Adjourns is not neccessary.

  59. Downtown

    I say binding referendum, but make the language applicable to the actual legislation. Right now, it is not. I'm all in favor of a binding referendum, but let's do it right. Two more weeks doesn't make a material difference.

  60. 5:05,

    I will believe the scores of executives over you whether this will create jobs.

    Despite your eloquent and well crafted argument, I remain for jobs. Vision people, have some vision.

    Also, have a logical binding referendum as to whether county government should vote for jobs!

  61. Contrary to popular belief commuter rail advocates do NOT want to see cars taken off the road. They just want to see fewer cars on the road. Foremost of those they believe should continue driving are themselves. So hop on the train you peons and make way on the highway for the elites.

  62. "I will believe the scores of executives over you whether this will create jobs."

    Too bad they can not point to examples or systems that are not bankrupt
    Myself I will believe The Easter Bunny and Peter Pan

  63. "Too bad they can not point to examples or systems that are not bankrupt
    Myself I will believe The Easter Bunny and Peter Pan"

    If that were the case, why would more systems come on line every year and competition for federal $ is high. It's about transit and the impact is beyond the bricks and morter

  64. Anon 8:02. If there are jobs that will follow this train? Why have only Dottie Metz of the Local McDonalds franchises been the only one to build a business near the Train depot in Racine? How many jobs are waiting at the Sav A Lot? How many housekeepers and Gardeners, will ride the train to work in those lavish homes around 6th and Memorial? The Mayor pointed to the great jobs available at Bucyrus in South Milwaukee? (Also NOT near the Train station). How many riders can we expect to begin riding this thing to work or shop at Walgrens on State St?

    If The business leaders were so confident it would bring jobs and prosperity to our area they would build it themselves.

    How many "shoppers/ Tourists will ride up from Chicago's north Shore and then get off at Kenosha and then get on another train and then pay yet another fare so they can ride for ten more minutes and get off at State ST? Then what ride a BUS into Downtown, pay yet another fare?

    I keep hearing we must build the train because "desirable" (The pretend people that will somehow ride this train and their big wallets and purses to our community), people with a choice won't ride a BUS. Yet every one of these options either requires these folks to come to our City and then ride a Bus! It's just a Pipe dream!!

  65. Anon 10:01

    "If that were the case, why would more systems come on line every year and competition for federal $ is high."

    The competition isn't high the Fed's are always dangling money at the Cities and States. "Everyone" is building these overpriced under utilized Systems all around the country and they are sucking up taxpayers $$ like a hoover on steroids. We should not only not build ours we should help other communities stop their own nonsense. because 200 million people seem to have the illusion that these things pay for themselves..but they don't and Cities and States are going Bankrupt because they can't pay for these things in the mean time Tax money that should be going to education and Road maintenance and the bus services, etc. but instead is going to provide a joy ride to the big city for $5.00 on the weekends, for yuppies, so they can catch dinner and a show! While taxpayer sucks up the $57.00 per rider subsidy! I'd rather buy the folks the Theater ticket!! At least I can be pretty sure the seat will be full. and the cost is far less. and if they choose not go to the show, I don't have to pay 280 million dollars back to the Fed's to repay the "Free Money"!

  66. "Tax money that should be going to education and Road maintenance and the bus services, etc."

    Give me a break! I'm tired of conservatives saying no to everything and replacing it with solutions that they themselves would not support.

    Conservatives hate Unified and will not vote to fund it. Conservatives hate the bus system and will not vote to fund it.

    Don't pretend that your stance is anything other than keeping $5 more dollars for yourself because you think that will create a job and magically solve everything.

  67. KRM is not needed with Amtrak stopping 6 miles to the west in Sturtevant. Down in the Northern Illinois suburbs, the Union Pacific line that Metra runs on and the Amtrak line are in places only THREE miles away from each other. Yet SEWRPC has the guts to claim they would serve different markets, talk about duplication.

    In the mean time, the city has no quick, direct highway access to Milwaukee, especially from the north side of town. Along the lake with no freeway, trips to Milwaukee take double the time it would take to go on I94 @ Hwy 20 to downtown Milw. How are all of these visitors supposed to get to downtown in a reasonable amount of time? No wonder we have 16 percent unemployment in Racine, what major business would today locate in an isolated city?

  68. A Lake Parkway extension into Racine County would bring this area into the 21st century. After all, we are a major metropolitan area.

  69. Anon 10:48. We have spent a fortune on Unified. We'll need much more $$ in the future, and if we are throwing millions into empty trains, (The avg train runs 85% empty NATIONWIDE), We won't have the money for the schools.
    I'll fund the buses when and where they are needed, but the riders need to pick up a bigger slice of the bill. Perhaps our community isn't big enough to afford it? I don't know that; I'm just suggesting it. If we raise fares $1.00 per ride would it lose less money per year? If we redoubled the focus on the most used routes could we fill the buses? We could then cut out the excess staff and buses and underused services.
    Don't like those choices? You think I'm a greedy Conservative? Guess what when RTA get's up and running and Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine's buses are all run by one organization: Guess whose routes will be cut? It won't be Milwaukee first, it'll be Racine and Kenosha's lines that will be trimmed. Ask the Cities around Milwaukee how the partnership with their Sewer System went? All for Milwaukee, and Screw the rest who paid the bills.
    Bottom line Anon is that you can't go to Milw. without cutting thru Racine. Sooner or later METRA will build an extension, and they'll do it when they can do it without losing too much money, when they are in pursuit of new riders for their system. The first stop is Racine, Keep the line open for the rails...and they will build in the hopes that we will ride it.
    Once METRA spends 9-15 Million to build the extension to us if it loses money it will be a drop in the bucket compared to $280 million we are discussing right now.

  70. Downtown Brown:

    Let me guess, the only answer is to cut taxes for the rich right? We shouldn't improve access, improve schools, build for a better quality of living for our residents.

    Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, says she doesn't care about tax breaks for building new facilities nearly as much as she cares about the ability to attract quality workers to her new plants. The ability to attract talent is paramount to any business. And she was a huge supporter of John McCain, a Repubican!

    So, if you think the incremental tax increase we are talking about is high, imagine what it will be when large employers leave for greener pastures. That will cost much more, and not just dollars.

    Vote NO for this silly referendum and yes for transit

  71. Anon 6:49. Higher taxes and empty trains is not an improved Quality of life. Throwing taxpayer money into empty trains or allowing Milwaukee to shut down our bus system..won't help draw students to our schools, or businesses to our City/ County. building a redundant train 5 miles from the center of our population in a neighborhood with no Factories, industry, or even a convenient shopping district. makes ZERO sense. If California has so many great jobs why don't take a busful of our unemployed people to California..where the jobs are instead of paying them unemployment and welfare for another ten years while they wait for another factory to come back to Racine. In a State and City tax cliamte it's not likely that any major employers is going to come into our city. It'll be small employers with 2-30 workers. We can't draw distribution centers because Mayor Dickert doesn't want to improve our roads enough to easily move trucks around the area. so those jobs will be created near the Freeway.. (Not anywhere near the State St. Train station. those are the potential riders..but they won't ride a train and then switch to a bus to get out closer to the freeway.
    The type of Commuter you need to ride this thing is making enough money to buy and own a car. So you have to "compete" to make it a good choice for him/ her to ride the train. If I live near Indian Hills and I work in Milwaukee. it's still faster and cheaper to get in my car and drive...even in rush hour. Or it's faster to drive to the Kenosha or Sturtevant station and then go into Chicago if I want. If you live less than a mile from the depot. like I do..the only case you can make is it'd be nice to go to Chicago to watch a play or go shopping. But that won't pay the bills for this KRM thing. and I'd hate to pay 7 dollars for the first 7 miles and then have to pay to get on METRA when I get to Kenosha.
    I think I'm being better with the taxpayers money and the vision of the future than you are Anon 6:49. But my ideas don't cost you 280 million dollars and God knows how much in the future. Vote NO! And lets improve the road access to Racine and lower taxes to attract new business. Anon 6:49 Did you ever notice how none of the TIF district is ever offer with a HIGHER tax incentive to the prospective company that comes to town with jobs etc.?? Why would that be?? Dr. Mr businessperson please bring your 300 jobs to our city and we'd like to ask you to payer 50% HIGHER taxes than everyone else here..Which Brownfield shall I direct you towards to begin the groundbreaking?? I have my Silver shovel in hand. Fact is Factories and businesses, and people with the wealth we need to attract to our city will come if the tax burdens is LESS not more. If that be tax breaks for the rich..then it's good for every level of worker. if the rich guy get's a tax break to come to Racine and build a business..then middle mgnt folks will have jobs and so will the lower skilled workers. It's really quite simple. And they won't need a train to get to their jobs. they can live right here in our city!

  72. Downtown

    All of the major business leaders in Racine disagree with you. They are the experts on jobs and what attracts business to the area.

  73. So, in Downtown Brown's theory we should be rolling in all of the new business right now.....but yeah, we're not.

    The tax burden in the Racine area is not high compared to surrounding regions. Even with this minor sales tax increase offset by property tax reduction, we are still competitively priced in the tax sense.

    Therefore by your logic, Downtown - since we don't have this "added" tax burden for the train we should already be pulling in business left and right.

    Your argument doesn't prove true in the present.

  74. 8:52 you have lost your grip on reality.

    Our taxes are way too high, and increasing them in this economy is insanity.

    You people really need to grasp the fact that Racine is not Chicago.

    We have good transportation systems in place already. Amtrak to Milwaukee and Chicago, a good local bus system, coach service that already runs the proposed KRM route, all are sparsely utilized.

    A shiny new train that runs at a 90% loss will be nothing but a further drain on the economy.

  75. May I just remind you all that this vote is about buses and the RTA. KRM has it's own funding source. You can debate whether you support that or not which is fine, but the County Board has done such a pi$$ poor job writing the referendum they don't even know what it funds.

    Plus it doesn't count.

  76. It doesn't count and we'll have to do it again anyway. Brilliant!

  77. I agree we should have a vote on this, but not until we know what we would be voting on and whether the bill passes the legislation.

    The timing, wording, rationale, and impetus for this non-binding referendum is questionable at best.

    County board: Vote no to this silliness.

  78. The Journal Times, in there ever increasing quest for journalistic stupidity, has decided to just have the referendum now on their website!

    Never mind the incomplete language or even bothering an in depth explanation of the issue at hand....oh no. Let's perpetuate the validity of this meaningless referendum by repeating the language and casting a fake vote!

  79. "Never mind the incomplete language or even bothering an in depth explanation of the issue at hand....oh no. Let's perpetuate the validity of this meaningless referendum by repeating the language and casting a fake vote!"

    And as always, the opposition are the ones who show up! The anonymous negative bloggers do not represent all people. In this economy, it's easy to fret about a minute tax and not look at the long term development and job creation.

    If the question were asked, would you pay an unnoticable amount for a stronger regional economy and connection to the 3rd and 22nd largest city in the USA, the vote would flip the other way. Those who will be impacted the most by a tax (large corporate employers) are all in favor. Some longer range vision and forethought will go far! Hopefully, our county board will see beyond Nov 2010. That is why we elected them!

  80. Downtown Brown - you're getting worse than Graham. Shorten up these postings - you are not that smart or important.

  81. Anon 1:14. Thanx for input.. I didn't know you were printing out all of my commentary. Of course if i throw drive by quick comments on the blog. I get accused of not being thorough. Can't win..So I do what I feel I need to post to get my thoughts out there. With that out of the way. Do you have anything intelligent to offer on the topic? or shall I attribute every single one of the above Anon:s as you??

  82. Great turn out tonight at the County Building!!! Both sides brought their voices to the Council. And while I would have preferred a "Binding" Referendum..we passed an Advisory with an 18-2 Vote. The "No" votes were Donnie Snow and Q A Shakoor. But the great news is that we can all debate the topic passionately for the next 7 months. Kelly Gallagher of Comm 4 Change I was serious in my offer to have a series of debates contact me at your convenience, and lets set something up!
    It was also great to have so much support on both sides!!

  83. The Racine County Board missed a golden opportunity to post a legit referendum question that would have had bipartisan support. Now we may never know the voice of the people. Real shame too.....bummer that this referendum is now illegitimate and has no value.

  84. Storm Racine4/14/2010 6:55 AM

    This will be the issue for Storm Racine on Blog Talk Radio, and I will be doing programing on CAR 25 to help the effort to kill KRM and the kinda fast train to kinda close to Madison.
    We the People can and will kill this dead dead dead.

  85. Tuesday's County Board meeting was exhillerating. I only wish I had raised my hand to offer my perspective. I kept hearing Racine being compared to NYC (as if we have a big problem with traffic congestion! NOT!), and how the train would help create jobs (how?). The best ideas for attracting businesses to Racine County is to lower taxes and keep roads in good condition. I don't know anyone who would take the train (except the Metra to Chicago because it IS a densely-populated city) and what business would want to open in an area where the roads are in disrepair? Someone mentioned that they have to drive all the way to Kenosha to take the train. BIG DEAL! Think outside the box and introduce Commuter Buses--more flexible routes; no need to build infrastructure; and less expensive to operate. People who oppose the KRM in lieu of more cost-effective transportation are discerning, critical thinkers who are tired of government spending us into oblivion!

  86. Next time all of the big executives supporting KRM have a press conference, someone in the media should ask how many of execs plan on riding KRM to work even if it takes 2.5 hours or more each way from Chicago-Milwaukee.